As a result of research undertaken in conjunction with QinetiQ, Intel Corp. has announced development of a new, ultra-fast, yet very low power prototype transistor using new materials that could form the basis of its microprocessors and other logic products beginning in the second half of the next decade. The two companies’ researchers have jointly demonstrated an enhancement-mode transistor using indium antimonide (InSb) to conduct electrical current. Intel anticipates using this new material to complement silicon, further extending Moore’s Law.

InSb is a III-V compound semiconductor. This class of semiconductor is used for a variety of discrete and small-scale integrated devices such as radio-frequency amplifiers, microwave devices and semiconductor lasers. Although researchers from Intel and QinetiQ have previously announced transistors with InSb channels the new prototype transistors have a gate length of 85 nm, which is half the size of those previously disclosed. This is the first time that enhancement mode transistors have been demonstrated.

Ken David, director of components research for Intel’s Technology and Manufacturing Group, commented, “By providing 50 percent more performance while reducing power consumption by roughly 10 times, this new material will give us considerable flexibility because we will have ability to optimise for both performance and power of future platforms.”